O’Reilly on Hell: Pinhead or Patriot?

Normally, I don’t mind Bill O’Reilly.  His No-Spin-Zone has less spin that a Tilt-a-Whirl, but often more ups and downs than a roller coaster.  But last night’s segment talking about a literal hell left me about as nauseous as if I’d been on both for a world record in the same hour program.  I’m thinking the Word of the Day for O’Reilly might have been Pinhead.

One friend wrote on Facebook, “O’Reilly has got to STOP doing theology!”  Amen, sister.  Not only because it confuses the viewers, but also because it’s dangerous.    In James 3:1, it is written:

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

O'Reilly on HellO’Reilly, this means you.  While in the camera’s eye, you have the ability to persuade many people and convince them that “the spin stops here.” When you enter the realm of theology, we no longer call it spin.  To the extent you are misinformed and try to play pastor-prophet-priest in your bully pulpit, you need to know the consequences of displaying such ignorance:  it’s called deception.  Lies.  Dangerous.  Infectious.

Yes, Mr. O’Reilly, it infects everything you do since your words of politics, your words of culture, and your words of theology are three streams arising from the same pool.  Pollute the source, you pollute them all.  Pollution found in any one leads us back to the source, sir.

Disparaging the biblical theology of grace by overlaying it with deeds that send the Hitlers of this world—by autopilot—into a literal hell while God is somehow weighing out the rest of us on a scale, completely misrepresents how evil we all are and how unable each of us is to discern our own hearts and actions.  There were two thieves next to Christ on the Cross—one dead today awaiting judgment and yes, a literal hell,  and one in Paradise with Jesus.  And Mr. O’Reilly, it wasn’t the thief’s recounting his good deeds that merited Jesus’ assurance.

Before you presume to take your theology to the camera, make sure you have your facts straight.  If you’re wrong (and you were in this case), Evangelical Christians in your audience don’t want to question whether “Fox Lies.”  Christians—Evangelical, Protestant, and Catholic—likely form the vast majority of your viewership.  The educated, reasonable, loving, and compassionate among evangelicals like me don’t welcome an extremist label.

Categories Chapel Worship/News | Tags: | Posted on April 26, 2011

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  1. by Amanda

    On April 29, 2011

    Did you happen to see the Franklin Graham segment last night? What did you think of his comment that we should put the “children of the Holocaust aside”? Do you think they’re in hell?

  2. by seminarygal

    On April 29, 2011

    Hi Amanda,
    Yes, I did see it. I think it was an instance where Rev. Graham’s eagerness to share the Gospel led him to say something that he probably regrets the way in which he said it. I would imagine he wishes there was a do-over.
    If Christianity doesn’t hold up in the hard cases, it won’t hold up at all. A much better answer would have been that “I’m not in the mind of God, however there IS a pattern in the Bible. The children of the faithless Israelites did not die in the wilderness as their parents did. They were allowed into the Promised Land.”
    I think it’s possible to uphold the “no one comes to the Father except through me” of John 14:6 and yet leave room for the freedom of God to determine how the “through me” works. To limit the way in which God applies the blood of Christ is to consign fetuses, babies, mentally retarded, those who never heard the Gospel, and those who died before Jesus Christ lived…people like Abraham and Elijah and Moses …to hell. And we know that they are not in hell. Romans 4:3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
    Let’s leave a little freedom for God to be God, yes?

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